Special to The Sun
More security cameras on the University of Central Oklahoma campus will deter crime, aid investigations and help create a safer community, a UCO official said.
UCO Police Chief Jeff Harp said an annual security and fire safety report satisfies a federal mandate, but its real purpose is to help inform the UCO community and prospective students and employees about safety and security on campus.
Harp said UCO’s mission is to help students learn, but administrators recognize this is not possible in an unsafe environment for its 17,217 students (fall 2013), faculty, staff and visitors.
“Safety and security are everyone’s business and each individual should always be alert and secure themselves and their property,” Harp said.
Departments across the campus have been aggressively engaged in the pursuit of replacing campus closed circuit cameras and preparing for a drastic expansion of cameras on campus, Harp said. Administrators worked as a team to define needs and to set procedures and requirements to enable this, Harp said.
During the coming weeks a vendor who will assist Central will be selected, Harp said.
Also in 2013, UCO Police Services and the Edmond Police Department entered into an agreement to partner more fully in training, Harp said. UCO officers, who have full enforcement authority on campus, now join Edmond officers each quarter in firearms and other law enforcement training, Harp said.
One resource making UCO safer is its alcohol and drug abuse prevention office located in the Nigh University Center, Harp said. The office provides prevention strategies for alcohol and drug abuse on the UCO campus.
University of Central Oklahoma disciplinary actions related to drug abuse and liquor law violations have fallen during the last three years, administrators report.
Harp said there is no simple explanation for the decreases. The incidents are not reported by victims, but have to be discovered by someone and then reported, Harp said.
“We see trends over time that show decreases and increases and the reasons are varied and often unknown,” Harp said.
At uco.edu, UCO Police Services offers information on its services which include community policing, SafeWalk, stalking, a way for community members to submit tips, Broncho Five-O, a daily crime log and a copy of the annual security and fire safety report.
Regarding fire safety, UCO has upgraded fire alarm panels in all academic buildings and a growing number of others around the campus, said Michael Stephens, UCO’s code compliance coordinator and fire marshal.
The new panels have been installed in a growing number of student housing facilities including Central Plaza, Commons 1000, 2000 and 3000, University Suites, Murdaugh Hall and West Hall. Police Services has an alarm receiving panel which monitors all network-capable fire alarm systems in structures.
The Lillard Administration Building has a SimplexGrinnell 4100ES fire alarm control panel which is representative of all the new fire panels on campus, Stephens said.
The system enhances emergency communication, protects infrastructure and enhances student safety, Stephens said. For example, its voice communications system can deliver real-time messages to the campus. Stephens said Central Oklahoma is transitioning from copper wiring to a fiber network.
UCO already maintains Central Alert, an emergency notification system that lets campus officials send news and instructions simultaneously to individuals through landline phones, cellphones, text messaging, email and pop-up messaging to campus computers.
Fire alarm systems report to the Edmond Fire Department through UCO Police Services.
UCO has sprinkler systems in all new buildings including the largest structures on campus. They include the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute, the Center for Transformative Learning, Nigh University Center and Chambers Library.
From 2010-12, a handful of minor fires, mostly related to cooking, have occurred on the campus, according to the annual report.
Emergency fire drills are conducted in January and September each year in residential housing facilities. Collectively, UCO conducted a total of 14 drills during 2012 in residential facilities.
Harp said UCO will continue its strong relationship, which includes training, radio communications, special event coordination and other activities that enhance public safety, with the City of Edmond in 2014.
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